Sports become a part of who you are, both mentally and physically. For children, sports become a means of socialization, but they also play a prominent factor in the development of movement. For adults, sports become a means of fitness, stress relief, competition and commonly injury. No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of young to old, or novice to professional, sports have likely impacted your body in some way. Appreciating how and to what extent may help you address chronic problems, prevent future ones and likely maximize your performance.
Each sport comes with its own particular set of movement patterns required of its’ athletes. Dancers have chest up, shoulders down, butt clenched, toes out drilled into them. Tennis players and golfers spend hours twisting one way and not the other. Bikers ride hundreds of kilometers with their bodies tucked into a tight aerodynamic position with their head poking up, and runners get used to just going straight forward all the time. How much these movement experiences will affect you really depends on what stage of your life you do them, how much you do them, and if you also have a variety of other sports you do, or have chosen to specialize and commit to the performance of just one.
Early movement experiences will really mold a child’s posture and coordination later in life, which is why I encourage physical play with my kids. Activities like chase, wrestling, rolling, jumping, throwing and catching really help kids build an awareness of how to use their bodies. They get some bumps and bruises along the way, but it helps them learn that pain is temporary and that their bodies are really amazing at healing themselves if they give them a chance. As a physiotherapist, I can quickly tell the difference between adults that have a physical, athletic history and ones that have lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, both in their body awareness and their outlook on their current pain or dysfunction. Past athletes tend to have a more optimistic and in-control attitude about their rehabilitation because they have relationships with their bodies due to past experience. Conversely, adults that haven’t competed in sports in their youth tend to be much less assertive in their healing and much more dependent on health professionals because they are less in tune with their bodies.